Pension at risk from assets test

HEATHER Yeatman, Professor of Public Health in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Wollongong, said many of the commission’s recommendations would be a source of major concern for the Shoalhaven if implemented.

“For example, many residents live on farms or have lived in the same house for many decades, and any attempt to include the house as an asset for pensions or entry into nursing homes would have a serious impact on their lives,” she said.

Professor Yeatman said the recommendation that a compulsory $15 fee for all consultations with a doctor was totally crazy.

“People with a chronic illness, often among the worst off in our community, will be hit hardest.”

She said studies showed that an upfront fee would also put off many people who needed medical attention.

“This will result in more serious illnesses and longer hospital times. It is cheaper to treat illnesses as soon as possible rather than wait until they require longer and more expensive medical attention.”

Professor Yeatman said the Commission of Audit did not seem to have given any thought to preventable health care. She also said that its recommendations to increase education costs for students were counter-productive.

“We’ve seen in the United States how increasing a student’s debt burden severely limits their ability later on to contribute to the economy.”

Prospect of moving away unsettling 

CURRARONG resident Molly Twemlow is 21 and unemployed.

She said she was concerned about the Commission of Audit’s recommendation that unemployed people aged between 22 and 30 would have to move to an area of high employment after 12 months on the dole.

“It’s hard enough being unemployed without having to move to an area where you have no family and no friendship or support network.”

Ms Twemlow said increasing the costs for students wanting to study at university was stupid.

“In areas of high unemployment like around Nowra, tertiary education can be an out for many young people.”

She said that even with a degree, however, it could be hard to get a job.

“The priority should be about creating jobs in the region for people, whether or not they have a degree. It’s getting harder and harder for young locals to live locally.”

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